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Forging bonds in foster care

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In its Life Stories initiative, Family Spirit works with children in foster care to create and share memories that will help them to grow. Photo: Ben Wicks on Unsplash

For a child living in foster care, maintaining connection to his or her birth family can strengthen self-confidence and a sense of belonging and identity.

In the lead up to Foster Care Week, 11-17 September, Family Spirit support worker Briony Cox explained her role in supporting bonds between vulnerable children and their families.

Ms Cox works alongside children in creating their individual life stories as part of the NSW agency’s Permanency Support Program. It includes connecting them with existing family connections they may have lost and giving the children an opportunity to reconnect if they wish when it’s safe and appropriate to do so.

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Family Spirit’s Briony Cox helps children in foster care connect with their family story. Photo: Family Spirit

Flicking through an old family album or hearing a childhood story from an older relative can be an important experience for a child without a strong connection to their birth family or background and may otherwise lack records of important events and key moments in their life.

“As a caseworker, our job is to capture as much of the child’s life story as we can, so they can have that with them, especially as they grow up and want to share their experiences with their own family,” Ms Cox explained.

Through the Life Stories initiative, one 11-year old boy was reconnected with his mother’s side of the family, finding his maternal grandfather who issued an invitation to an upcoming extended family gathering. The boy wanted to go, and with strong support from his current carer they made his first plane trip to rural Queensland to reconnect with his culture and meet a large group of his relatives for the first time.

It was beautiful to see him connect with cousins around his age and to see aunties and uncles embrace and connect with him – briony Cox, family spirit

The family are now in regular contact and are planning the next catch-up.

“It was beautiful to see him connect with cousins around his age and to see aunties and uncles embrace and connect with him,” said Ms Cox.

In developing individual life stories, birth families are shared updates and able to share in the joy of the child’s life, when it’s in the best interest of the child for that to occur, while the child collaborates on what updates are shared with their family.

Family Spirit is a NSW foster care and adoption agency that seeks safe and caring homes for vulnerable children and young people across Sydney and regional areas.

To learn more visit familyspirit.org or call 13 18 19.

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